The Portent

Feb 22, 2017 786

BY: Norman Gilliland

Because it was politically sensitive, Giuseppe Verdi’s new opera Un ballo in maschera made the Italian censors nervous. They forced Verdi to change the action to someplace farther from home. He chose seventeenth-century Boston. The King of Sweden became the Governor of Boston. When Un ballo in maschera came to the United States in 1861, it was quite the rage despite some absurdities, such as Puritans holding a masked ball.

When the opera played at the Academy of Music in New York on February 20, 1861, its audience included President-elect Abraham Lincoln, who was en route from Springfield, Illinois, via Albany and New York to Washington, where he was to be inaugurated as president two weeks later.

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